DM168

LINE OF FIRE

Murder of KZN woman shows the justice system is still ‘failing women’

Murder of KZN woman shows the justice system is still ‘failing women’
Sasha Lee Shah was killed in 2022 when her ex-boyfriend shot her before killing himself. (Photos: Facebook)

Sasha Lee Shah’s murder in 2022 highlights flaws in gun control and the South African police system.

A heartbreaking trail of paperwork and pleas to authorities led up to the murder of Sasha Lee Shah.

Some related to complaints about her ex, Kyle Inderlall, who was accused of shooting her, before killing himself, and include that he had previously pointed a firearm at a second woman and threatened a third.

At the time of her murder, 25-year-old Shah had an interim protection order against Inderlall.

Protect women and children

The case of Shah’s killing is now set to be the focus of an inquest that is expected to be heard in Durban on 1 December.

Her mother, Jessica, hopes this will clear up some details surrounding her daughter’s murder.

“The justice system is in place for a reason, yet it is failing women,” she told Daily Maverick this week.

“We as a nation need to stand together and fight for justice for our women and children. We need to ensure that our women and children are not senselessly murdered…

Read more in Daily Maverick: Statistic of out-of-control violence – 969 women murdered in South Africa in just three months

“Every abused woman has the right to report [complaints] and the right to be treated with respect [and] dignity, and justice should always prevail.”

Aside from gender-based violence, another critical problem in South Africa evidenced by Shah’s murder is the state’s monitoring of firearms.

Gun control problems

Daily Maverick has reported extensively on the Central Firearms Registry, which falls under the South African Police Service (SAPS) and is meant to oversee gun licence applications and related issues.

Parliament has previously heard it is operating below standard, which means the movements of firearms and ammunition are not being thoroughly tracked.

Earlier this year, a report, “The State of the Central Firearms Registry in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”, by Gun Free South Africa and the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum, was published.

It found that corruption connected to cops issuing firearm licences resulted in thousands of guns getting to criminals.

A retired cop who is now the Western Cape’s police ombudsman, Oswald Reddy, spoke at the report’s launch in July and referenced what happened to Shah, saying she was his niece.

“Her ex-boyfriend was a security officer who had a private firearm. The firearm was seized by the police but [was] handed back to him and he used it to kill her and himself,” Reddy said.

“There is a lawsuit looking into how and why did he get his firearm back. All of the above are adding to the low levels of trust in the SAPS.”

Trail to tragedy

A paper trail of complaints to authorities about Inderlall preceded Shah’s murder. This suggests some SAPS officers should have been aware of his background. The trail includes the following:

In late 2020 a woman lodged a complaint at the Phoenix police station. In it she alleged that Inderlall had pointed a firearm at her. She also allegedly asked that the firearm be removed from him. (Daily Maverick provided this case number to the KwaZulu-Natal police in a media query about the broader matter, but no response was given about this specific incident.)

A section of the interim order says a member of the Phoenix police should seize a firearm and ammunition from Inderlall. Curiously, that section was struck out.

Another woman applied for a protection order against Inderlall in December 2021. Daily Maverick has seen the document, which states that “threats are being made against the victim” and an “attempted murder charge has been opened”.

The attempted murder complaint against Inderlall related to an incident involving the woman’s father.

According to the protection order application: “Kyle is currently in possession of a [licensed] firearm which he pointed at my face while sitting in his car [in September 2021].”

Read more in Daily Maverick:  Cops can’t be trusted to turn around SA’s decades-old trajectory of firearm control failures – new report

The interim protection order was granted. However, it was apparently not served on Inderlall. A section of the interim order says a member of the Phoenix police should seize a firearm and ammunition from Inderlall. Curiously, that section was struck out – an apparent pen mark runs through it.

In September 2022, Shah was granted an interim protection order against Inderlall after she applied for it because she was scared that he was stalking her.

Inderlall’s sister, Milekha, was quoted in The Post as saying that he then left Shah alone but was worried the order would “tarnish his reputation”.

He had apparently become upset when he saw a picture of another man, accompanied by a heart image, that Shah had posted on social media.

On 30 October 2022, Shah was murdered – she had been in the parking lot of a mall in uMhlanga, in northern Durban, when Inderlall shot her, before he turned the firearm on himself.

Seeking justice

Jessica, in a quest to find out why Inderlall had a firearm at the time of her daughter’s killing, despite complaints about him, turned to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

In January 2023 she was informed that the matter did not fall under Ipid’s mandate – Daily Maverick has seen correspondence showing this.

Jessica, who herself has dealt with other issues relating to a relative’s gun, was advised to address her complaint to the police’s KwaZulu-Natal office.

The hardest thing I have ever had to hear is that my child… died.

It is understood that a captain who was based at the Phoenix police station was suspended without pay for two months over the Inderlall firearm matter.

A document with a SAPS letterhead, dated 20 April 2023, said a police captain had indeed faced charges relating to “misconduct which detrimentally affects the image of the Service or brings [it] into disrepute” and “any contravention of the Firearms Control Act” linked to South African Police Service Regulations.

According to Jessica, the captain is currently based at the Phoenix SAPS domestic violence unit.

In response to questions about the issue, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala, told Daily Maverick: “An internal investigation was conducted regarding the conduct of the member and [the officer] was given a sanction.”

Grief

A public Facebook group has been set up in Shah’s memory.

On the group, Jessica often expresses her grief and ongoing shock at her daughter’s murder.

In one of her posts last month, marking nearly a year since Shah’s killing, she said: “I just still can’t believe you are gone.”

Another said: “The hardest thing I have ever had to hear is that my child… died.

“The hardest thing that I have ever done is to live every day since that moment…” DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

Page 1. Front page DM168. 18 November 2023

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Goverment is failing at every level at every department

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Central Firearms Registry is operating ‘below standard’? In South Africa? No. Surely you jest! Honestly, is there anything … anywhere (that is run by the national government) … that operates to standard …. Squirrel? ANYTHING?

  • Hendrik Nel says:

    RIP. Very sad to see and condolences to her family. Although I agree that our country has a massive problem with gender-based violence, statistics show that 7 out of 8 victims are male – in the official 2021/22 SAPS annual report, 25,204 murders were recorded, of which 3,198 were women and 20,924 were men. Should we not react to murder in general, instead of placing emphasis on only women? I’m genuinely asking as it looks like there is a major problem, hiding in plain sight!

  • Bewe 1414 says:

    This is really sad. What is more sad, is how gender based violence is also inflicted upon women by other women. I have witnessed how women, have been drawn into a life cycle whereby they themselves become perpetrators of crime against other women. It is not only men. I have seen how women and children form part of communities, are being taught skills in gangsterism, and they become part of a vicious cycle of abuse where they are taught to terrorize other women and children. This is the unseen world many women experience- when the perpetrators that help men abuse women, are other women as well. It is sad to witness this. It happens across communities, including the poor, middle class and rich. When the police are on the hunt for killers, it could easily be women and children, even the elderly, that are being drawn into gangsterism and committing crimes. Then it’s not even poverty that poverty that drives these people, it out of fear of repercussions if they don’t do it. Once they do these heinous things the first time, it just becomes easier.

  • Barrie Lewis says:

    “More Americans are killed by deer than any other animal.” That’s hard to swallow. At least if SA is anything to go by. By a long mile the most dangerous animal in SA, and I suspect America too, is not the deer, hippos or crocodiles. It’s a very dangerous creature known generally as Homo Sapiens; mostly but certainly not exclusively it’s the male that is so virulent. Unlike the spider it’s the male that kills his mate.

    But that’s only true in countries where citizens are allowed by law to own automatic weapons; and those where the law is no longer recognised, trusted or enforced.

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